Accommodation: Baxpax Downtown Hostel - we decided to start with our go-to accommodation - hostels, but we switched it up a bit this time. We found a hostel/hotel that had private, apartment-style rooms for a reasonable price. A room with three beds and a private bath (and kitchenette) cost us $30 each/night (the same as my bed in a 12 person mixed dorm room in Copenhagen). Since we came at low-season/during the week, we seemed to be the only adults surrounded by a group of rowdy Spanish teenagers on a school trip, but I could see it being great during the main tourist season/weekends. It was in a great location right next to the metro station.
Transportation: We would definitely recommend investing in a multi-day travel pass for all 3 zones. We didn’t realize how spread out Berlin is until we arrived, but it’s honestly much easier to get around by metro (especially in March when the weather is a bit chilly and rainy). This card lets you travel to any zone for free. Just make sure you validate it and keep it on you as there are sporadic checks by workers.
Accommodation: To be quite honest, I booked this hostel a few weeks before leaving, but it was pretty cheap (cheap is relative in Denmark), close to everything and had good reviews. Looking back, I would highly recommend the Copenhagen Downtown Hostel. The crowd staying there was really social, so whether it was meeting people staying in your room or down at the bar, striking up a conversation came easily.
Another great feature of this hostel was that the bar inside stayed open till 5 a.m. and offered some pretty great happy hour specials (but when they say happy hour, they literally mean 1 hour). The other travelers, friendly staff and fun bar scene definitely made up for any lacking amenities.
Restaurants/Food: Copenhagen is probably the most expensive place I’ve ever been (this might include Australia too). A latte will cost you $7. Want to find something more budget friendly? My recommendation is finding street food. There are hot dog stands pretty much lining the streets, and even though it will still cost you around $6, it's by far your most budget friendly option and a great way to try something local (and tasty).
Most of the restaurants were going to cost you somewhere around $20 for a meal, so we didn't go to many, but one place I would check out is the Gasoline Grill. It doesn't seem like much to look at, and I'd never heard of it (maybe because I hadn't done a ton of research), but it's actually been named one of the best burger places in the world. It' a bit like a Danish version of In-n-Out...one of those iconic places you just have to make a stop at whenever you're in the city. The only difference? It's located in what used to be a store off a gas station and still has a working gas pump in the parking lot.
I decided to just blow the budget a little bit (I didn’t have much choice if I wanted to eat) since I was only there for a few days, but my best tip if you are looking to stick to a backpacker’s budget is to cook for yourself.
Free Things To Do: Copenhagen is an expensive city, but there are a few things that you can do for free. I like to spend some time in each city I visit just getting lost because it's usually when I stumble on cool things. This is how I found the Christiansborg Palace located right down the street from my hostel. Take a stroll along the water and check out the palace.
Then, get ready to burn off all the hot dogs and beer you've been consuming with a nice, long walk to the Little Mermaid statue. To be honest, it's a little underwhelming, but I'd read that in reviews before going (and it's kind of an iconic Copenhagen thing), so I was prepared. As you head that way, there's plenty of things to stop and see, like the colorful, canal-side buildings on Nyhavn that appear in every picture. There's lots of life around this area, but be warned that it's notorious for being extra pricey.
Copenhagen's food markets are up-and-coming, so check out the Torvehallerne, which includes over 60 stands selling just about everything. Take in the sights and the people and enjoy some local cuisine.
Another thing to keep in mind is that most churches are free to enter and look around and can offer some really beautiful architecture that you just don't find anywhere but in Europe.
Nightlife: We really only left our hostel bar once while in Copenhagen. We decided to trek out on Friday night to find some cool clubs, but quickly found out that Friday's and Saturday's out in Copenhagen were a bit out of our price range. For most of the big clubs, you can probably expect between $10-20 cover plus overpriced drinks once inside. Your best bet is to check out the big clubs on a Thursday if you're around.
That's how we found the Drunken Flamingo, which was conveniently located right down the street from our hostel. For about $10, you got entry to the club, a free drink (it is a pre-determined drink) and either a free coat check or a shot (wish we would have known that because we just ended up leaving with a whole bunch of coat check poker chips). We played some beer pong/listened to some music, but it definitely was a little more low-key compared to the rest of the bars.
Attractions: Head to the Round Tower for a 360 view of Copenhagen. For about $5, you can get a workout climbing up the tower and taking in a nice view from the top. For about the same price (with your student ID, so bring one or dig it out if you still have it), you can take in the Botanical gardens. I'm not sure exactly why they call it the Botanical "Gardens" because everything I saw was in a temperature controlled indoor space, but it was really cool to walk around and take it all in. Once you're done inside, take a walk around the park outside because it's equally as nice, especially in warm weather.
The last thing I would recommend is doing a day trip to Malmo, Sweden. It's about an hour and a half bus ride and costs maybe $25 max round trip. Malmo was the cheaper and smaller version of Copenhagen. I pretty much just walked around the main area and took in the sites and people, which were beautiful, but there are a few cool things to see if you have the time. Unfortunately, I had to get back to catch my plane to Germany, but I would highly suggest planning to spend most of the day in this beautiful city getting another taste of European life.
Lexa and I were planning a trip to Budapest to end the semester, so when I got the chance to take a day trip to Bratislava, I decided to take it. After a long overnight bus and a plane later, I arrived in Budapest and hopped on a 2.5 hour train to Bratislava. This is a really great option if you're already planning a trip to Budapest because the two cities are totally different and a round trip train ticket costs less than $40.
Arriving in Bratislava, it didn't take long to catch a fairy tale feel, which made me excited to explore more the next day (another perk: it's so cheap!!). Here's a few things I recommend.
Free Attractions/Things to Do:
While we might be biased since we studied only 30 minutes away from Spain’s capital, Madrid is a must-see city when traveling in Europe. There’s always something to do, great tapas and it’s super clean. Even though we traveled there at least 10 times while abroad, we discovered something new each time we explored this gorgeous city. Here are some of our favorite attractions that won’t break your budget:
After spending an entire semester planing out every detail (or mostly just winging it) of each trip, we decided to let someone else take the reins. We used a company called WSA, which has different excursions throughout Europe. From seeing the sites to visiting the thermal baths, our entire two day itinerary was planned for us. Our guide, Bogi, was incredible and made the weekend so much fun. Instead of just learning the history of Budapest, we spent two days laughing together and were genuinely interested in everything she had to say. Check out Bogi's guides to Budapest here or her instagram about Budapest here to see some amazing photos that'll inspire you to pack your bags.
Prague is a city I've wanted to explore for years. It's a city that seemed so different from everywhere else I'd visited in Europe. When we had to switch our plans before our trip to make sure we didn't overstay our limit in the Schengen Zone, I thought for sure Prague would have to get cut off the list. Luckily, I found a few days to make a quick trip before heading to Spain. Even though I only got to spend a day and a half here, I loved the city! Here are some of my recommendations if you only have.a short window to visit.
One of the best things about Prague was that pretty much everything we did was free.
Heading to Croatia, we were ready for warmer weather, but had no idea what to expect. Our time in Split and Dubrovnik did not disappoint, and we'd already love to go back (maybe on a yacht next time....a girl can dream right?). Here are a few of the highlights of our trip:
When planning our trip through the U.K, our friends raved about Edinburgh; so naturally we added it to our itinerary. We were immediately impressed by the vibe of the city - stone buildings lined every inch of the skyline and instead of building outward, the city had built up on top of itself. We'd never seen a city like it and couldn't wait to go exploring.
Top of Calton Hill
After our trip to London in 2015, we didn't have high hopes for another experience in one of England's bigger cities. However, we were completely surprised by how nice everyone was and were swept away by the city's quirky history and identity rooted in its colleges.
1) Without a doubt, our favorite part of our time in Oxford and our #1 recommendation is to take a Footprints free guided walking tour. Our guide, Spencer, was really knowledgable, funny and told us some really incredible stories about the history of Oxford
--did you know that Alice in Wonderland was written from a story told to an 8-year-old girl while "punting" down the river? That story later came to be published into the story we all know today.
--did you know that Oxford University is actually made of 38 colleges, which all have pet tortoises? Each year they race them, and in years past, they were the cause of some pretty brutal pranks between rival colleges.
2) Pitt Rivers Museum - This museum is a collection of memorabilia from around the world donated by travelers. It has a bit of a gloomy, creepy feel since thousands of artifacts are huddled together in class cases, which look like a maze from above (the shrunken heads don't help the creepy vibe either). There were some really cool exhibits, but it was overwhelming at times because of the sheer number of artifacts being displayed. The layout of the museum and heavy cultural emphasis were different from your typical museum experience.